Saturday, July 23, 2005

Saturday Stew (BiB's Charge + Jouvert + More)

Basquiat_in_Brooklyn (Frank Leon Roberts), in a post this past Thursday on his blog Brooklyn Boys Blues, threw down the gantlet to fellow Black sgl bloggers about the recent CDC statistics concerning the high incidence of HIV seropositivity (46%) in Black MSMs in selected US cities. His passionate post makes some great points, and I do intend to post an article on HIV, AIDS and the Black community I'd drafted several years ago for an online publication that never ran it in a few days, but I recommend Frank's piece, because whether you agree with it or not (and I do wonder about the CDC's statistics, which have not always been accurate or easy to interpret, though I thik in general the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Black American community is serious and needs to be addressed continuously), it is provocative nonetheless and can be one of many starting points for discussion and action.

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FiguresOne of the online periodicals I periodically check out is Jouvert: a journal of post-colonial studies, published out of the College of Humanities at North Carolina State University.

Published tri-annually, Jouvert (the name, from the French for "I open," refers to the opening of Trinidadian Carnival) is a multi-disciplinary, refereed journal that features original and reprinted essays, book reviews, and creative writing by well-known and emerging writers and scholars. As its editors say, "We do think that Jouvert can stage discussions spanning different cultural locations and theoretical interests," which, though they strive to displace the "colonial" as the master signifier, also recognize the persistence of neocolonial discourses. Jouvert's statement of purpose goes so far as to problematize its own situation in relation to the Web as a medium of transmission and dissemination, which it notes is one of those "troubled points of intersection" that begs for more "rigorous interpretation."

The current issue, Volume 7, Issue 2 bears the title Colonial Posts, and includes readings of DuBois's concept of "semi-colonial[ism]," Ahmed Soueif's Aisha as a case of transcultural writing, colonial discourse and healthcare delivery in the Canadian North; reviews of books by F. Abiola Irele, Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt, and Meena Alexander; and poems and a story by Alicia Jenkins and Klaus de Albuquerque respectively. Of course it contains a lot more work worth checking out.

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And now for something completely different, Vanessa Grigoriadis writes a deliciously comic piece, entitled "Celebrity and Its Discontents: A Diagnosis," in the new New York Magazine about overinflated celebrity egos translating into the meganuttiness of our megastars--Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson (at right, with his children, photo credit Bauer-Griffin), Chris Tucker, Brad Pitt, Lindsay Lohan, Dave Chappelle, and others. Quoth she:

Celebrity, as John Updike wrote, is the mask that eats into the face. A study has shown that pop stars use personal pronouns in their songwriting three times more once they become famous; another study claims that the more famous one gets, the more one checks oneself in the mirror, and the more one’s self-concept becomes self-conscious. It’s a problem, to be both self-involved and self-conscious.

A Tinseltown version of post-traumatic stress disorder develops. Danger is around every corner. “The same thing happens to celebrities that happens because of war, because you’re in the middle of disaster, terrorism,” says psychologist Robert Butterworth. Last month, Catherine Zeta-Jones’s stalker was sent to prison after claiming she was going to blow Zeta-Jones’s brains out like JFK or slice her up like Manson did to Sharon Tate unless she stopped having an affair with George Clooney, which she wasn’t.

Trapped in their bubble, celebrities experience arrested development. The celebrity becomes an adolescent, a developmental stage that is non-age-specific. The time is the time before the blows to self-esteem that lead to a mature, realistic view of one’s weaknesses and strengths and a capacity for love that transcends self-love (Paris Hilton time).

This is only a tiny slice of the hilarious pie Grigoriadis serves up.


  1. Thanks John - as usual -

    tonight, i went to a party with 'very sophisticated, new media artists and computer programmers.' As usual - the ego mania - the me-assertion -the 'too sexy for my feet' energy abounded - the 'lovely-incredible-fantastic-me' was rampant.

    i got bored and took the baby boy home. i live with a teenager at the is a blessed thing...there is only so much head nodding, smiling and 'gee, how fantastic" one can do in a day.

    So grateful to know it's a psycological issue that one - the fan, movie goer, concert listener - can opt out of. Currently voting with my dollars........

    for media theft of any recent artists mentioned in your blog (and others I see as acting out on their arrested development)

    Wow! And suddenly, I don't have to find a child-minder now to see any of these things! Hooray for clarity!

  2. celebrity and its discontents..i will have to find this article a few people i know have been telling me about it and I will have to read it...